Pagan Community Notes: Houston Pagan Pride, Blue Moon Murder, Hellenion and more

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HOUSTON — “Texas has never seen an event like Harvey,” says FEMA Administrator Brock Long. The category 4 hurricane made landfall Friday 10 p.m., bringing sustained winds of 130 mph. It has since been downgraded to tropical storm, but that does not eliminate the dangers and threats to the region. “The storm is forecast to head southeast toward the Matagorda Bay and Gulf of Mexico where it will pick up additional moisture before sliding back over Galveston and Houston, cities it’s already hammered,” as reported by CNN.

Due to the storm, Houston Pagan Pride Day (HPPD) was cancelled. The annual event was originally schedule for Saturday, Aug. 26. Local coordinator Virginia Villarreal announced the decision on Friday morning, adding that the Friday evening meet and greet would still happen. However, that was also cancelled. Villareal, who is a high priestess and member of the Temple of Witchcraft, wrote, “I want everyone to be safe.” HPPD will reportedly be rescheduled in November.

Additionally, Christopher Penczak, who was scheduled to be the guest presenter at HPPD, is caught in the city due to the storm. Penczak has been communicating intermittently due to limited internet and cell power. Sunday, he posted that the airport will be closed at least through Wednesday. He wrote, “Constant phone alerts to floods and tornadoes kinda stressful. I have food. I have water. I am dry. I am as safe as I can be, and doing everything reasonable I can while working with hotel staff and services.”

His current hotel is closing and he is looking to move to another location.  Due to communication limitations in the area, TWH has not been able to speak directly with Houston Pagans or Penczak. We will bring you up-to-date when possible.

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PENSACOLA , Fla. — Donald Wayne Hartung appeared in court Aug. 15 for the murder of his mother, Voncile Smith, and two half-brothers, John and Richard Smith.  In 2015, police found the three victims dead in their home in investigation that became known as the “Blue Moon Murders.”

As we reported at the time, “Sheriff David Morgan linked the case to that week’s blue moon. [Morgan] called the murder ‘ritualistic’ and the scene ‘odd at best.’ Additionally, during the Aug. 4 news conference, Morgan reported that the case was connected to Witchcraft, which set off a week-long international media frenzy.”

According to reports, Hartung’s defense attorney “filed several motions to have certain information suppressed,” including religion. However, since it was suggested that religion or Witchcraft was possibly a motive, the motions were denied.

We will continue to follow this case. 

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TWH – Organizations continue to publish statements regarding the violent events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia. The latest organization to do just that is Hellenion, “a non-profit organization for Hellenic Polytheists.”  Its statement begins:

“As stated in our mission, Hellenion values equality and inclusiveness; and it is our duty, as practitioners of Hellenismos, to follow the spirit of the Delphic Maxims and honor our commitment to Dike (justice) and Arete (moral virtue). Therefore, in light of the hate, racism, anti-semitism and violence expressed in Charlottesville, we feel the moral imperative to highlight our stance in no uncertain terms.” Read the entire statement on its website.

The organization was founded in 2000 as an online community “with the intent of drawing together the classical Pagan community to promote fellowship, free exchange of ideas, scholarship, and spirituality.” It became an official organization in 2001 and earned 501(c)(3) status in 2002. It has demoi, or local congregations, across country and in Canada.

In other news

  • Members of the Alliance for Inclusive Heathenry were at the University of California, Berkeley counter-protest Sunday. The organization has, in the past, made a public showing at similar rallies and protests. In April, several members were at the Berkeley event that turned violent, which was the group’s first political endeavor. At the time, co-founder Diana Paxson told The Wild Hunt, “My friends and I attended under the banner of the Alliance for Inclusive Heathenry, which exists to organize and provide a context for individuals and groups to work together for specific events.” Paxson was once again at Sunday’s protest, along with other members and other Heathen organizations.
  • Pagan Pride Day season has arrived in full and events are scheduled all over the U.S. and beyond. Many of these daylong festival events are part of the Pagan pride project. However, not all are. Some are run independently. Many pride events, particularly those that are part of the project, will include a local beneficiary. For example, Philadelphia Pagan Pride, now in its fifth year, will be sending donations to the “food bank at the Mazzoni Center, Forgotten Cats, and In-Reach Heathen Prison Services.”  Philadelphia Pagan Pride will be held on Sept. 2 at Clark Park. Generally, pride events occur through November.
  • World Goddess Day is coming up Sept. 3.
  • NILVX, a quarterly anthology of magic, mysticism, and the occult, is seeking submissions for its spring 2018 publication. The theme is “Divine Androgyne (LGBT),” and the editors are seeking fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, and photography. They explain, “The Divine Androgyne symbolizes the process of differentiation and reunification of polarities. The symbol is dynamic and alive, never static, and contemplation of the living symbol may elucidate insight into the LGBT spirit.” They add that the issue will “celebrate the magic of LGBT spirituality.” Submission guidelines, including the deadline, are published on the website.
  • Note from The Wild Hunt editorial staff: If you see news, have news tips, have a press release or statement, contact us. Let us know what is happening in your communities, in your groups, and in your organizations. No event is too small. We also accept submissions for our periodic guest slots and are always looking for new voices and new writing talent. Don’t be shy. We want to hear from you!